Not waiting for government rulemaking, the company hopes to accelerate industry adoption of vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications capabilities.
By Murray Slovick, Contributing Editor
Toyota Motor Company plans to start deployment of dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) systems on its Toyota and Lexus brand vehicles sold in the United States starting in 2021, with the goal of adoption across most of its lineup by the mid-2020s.
“We believe that greater DSRC adoption by all automakers will not only help drivers get to their destinations more safely and efficiently, but also help lay the foundation for future connected and automated driving systems,” said Jim Lentz, CEO of Toyota Motor North America (TMNA).
In 2015, Toyota and Lexus became the world’s first auto brands in Japan to sell and commercialize vehicles equipped with DSRC (see figure) as part of a national Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) program. As of March 2018, more than 100,000 DSRC-equipped Toyota and Lexus vehicles were on the road in Japan.
DSRC transmissions, based on the IEEE 802.11p standard, enable vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communications, collectively known as V2X. In 1999, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission allocated car companies a block of spectrum in the 5.9-GHz band for V2X communication.
DSRC, which is based on Wi-Fi,supports the broadcast of vehicle information several times per second, including location, speed, and acceleration. This information can be used by other DSRC-enabled vehicles and devices to help drivers prevent collisions.
Communication can also be enabled to provide helpful real-time information, such as potential hazards, stopped vehicles ahead, or signals, signs, and road conditions that may be difficult to see. For example, if a vehicle further up the road detects slippery conditions, it can broadcast a message to alert drivers that are following on the same road to slow down.
Because the technology doesn’t require a cellular or data network, vehicles equipped with DSRC don’t require a cellular network nor incur any cellular network carrier charges.
Autonomous vehicles would also benefit from V2X as information could be fed to their decision-making algorithms. Unlike the other sensors aboard self-driving vehicles, V2V from other vehicles could provide information on imminent hazards not based on line of sight.
In the U.S., GM’s Cadillac Division introduced V2V communications in its 2017 CTS sedan. Cadillac’s V2V solution uses DSRC and GPS, and can handle 1,000 messages per second from vehicles up to nearly 1,000 feet away. In Europe, Volkswagen announced it would begin deploying the same technology beginning in 2019.
What About C-V2X?
A second, competing group is supporting cellular vehicle-to-everything (C-V2X) technology based on LTE. It’s similarly designed to connect vehicles to each other, to roadside infrastructure, to other road-users, and to cloud-based services. Ford has announced plans to deploy C-V2X, although it hasn’t set a launch date. Cellular technology advocates claim that C-V2X is designed to provide an evolution path to 5G, and as such, is superior to DSRC.
Proponents of C-V2X, led by Qualcomm, Nokia, AT&T, and Huawei, claim that DSRC is an outmoded technology, an argument Toyota counters by noting that the cellular equivalent will likely be several years behind DSRC in availability for broad deployment. Like DSRC, C-V2X is also expected to operate in the absence of an external cellular network.
To be fair, QualcommTechnologies has solutions for both C-V2X and 802.11p-based DSRC. Qualcomm offers commercial 802.11p/DSRC solutions today and announced availability of its first C-V2X direct communications chipset (the Qualcomm 9150), coming later this year.
By way of background, in late 2016, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published a notice of proposed rulemaking that if enacted would have mandated all automakers to begin installing DSRC-based V2V beginning in about 2020. However, the proposed federal rule under review, which if approved in 2019 would require new vehicles sold in the U.S. in 2023 to have DSRC-based V2V connectivity, has encountered delays and there’s been no movement forward by the Department of Transportation.
Last November, a coalition of auto companies, including Toyota and General Motors, urged U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to support a V2X mandate for all new passenger vehicles by 2023.